After they prepared a light meal—having found little in the way of food reserves in the palace kitchens—the women discussed with Bernard what had happened at the palace since they’d last been there. For Therese, that was when an assassin tried to kill her one day. An arrow that someone shot caused her to slip at the edge of a cliff. She fell to the roaring river below. When she regained consciousness, some people, who it turned out were Lucy’s friends, attended to her welfare. They cautioned her against returning to the palace, as it seemed someone there actively sought her demise. Therese took the warnings to heart. A few years later, she met Mara, who was traveling with the newborn twins, Reigna and Eden. Later, Mara reunited Therese with Basha.
For her part, Basha had been spirited away from the palace one day when Mara traveled there magically to rescue Dixon. Lilith held him hostage there, torturing him in an effort to get him to reveal the whereabouts of Rowena’s newborn child. It was that child—or rather children, Reigna and Eden—who Basha and Therese had helped to protect at Lucy’s compound during the intervening years. Basha had visited the palace only once since then, and that was when she and Mara traveled there magically to recover the great scepter for the twins, its rightful holders.
Bernard filled his visitors in on events at the palace over the years. Once news had come that Lilith had tried to kill Rowena’s newborn daughters and that in the process, she’d roamed the countryside, killing thousands of other infants, no one at the palace wanted anything further to do with her. They didn’t celebrate her death, neither could they find anything to celebrate about her life. Thus, no one had entered her room in all the intervening years.
As to the others living at the palace when Lilith died, Bernard had little information to impart. Sally and Janine left shortly after Lilith’s death. He’d neither seen nor heard a word from either of them since. Meanwhile, he remained at the palace, waiting for the day when the first family might return to their ancestral home. As the years passed, one by one, the guards, the grounds keepers, the wait staff, the other doormen, the kitchen personnel, and the gardeners, moved on. Only Bernard remained.
Basha and Therese tried to convince him that he too should depart, but he refused. The truth, he told them, was that he had nowhere else to go, no family to attend to, and no personal estate to which he could return. He’d known but one home for decades, and he had no intention of leaving it now.
Accepting his refusal, the women promised they’d send someone to the palace to help him. He’d long since reached the time when others should have seen to his needs. The women reasoned that the first family owed it to him to care for him, given his many years of service. Moreover, they hoped the family would return before long to keep him company.
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